Around the World: Misconceptions Resolved

I’m cleaning my website again, and archiving old things here on my blog. This is a lesson plan / planning page for an international project we did in 2008. The report from 2008 is on my blog here.

Around the World: Misconceptions Resolved

Description: Students will identify misconceptions they hold regarding other cultures, while identifying and dispelling misconceptions held about their own culture. Preparation will involve researching other countries, journaling responses to reading, and formulating questions for interaction with students in other countries.

Subject Area: Reading and Writing
Intended Grade Level: Middle School (ages 12-14 – negotiable)

Time: This project will require several 45 minute videoconferences with interested schools throughout a 12 hour period. Before the videoconference, students will need approximately three weeks to research and present information to their classmates.

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Preparation Materials & Lesson Plan

Preparation: The host class, Coloma Middle School, will divide classes into groups to interact with each partner school.

The participating classes may also wish to divide students into groups to research the other countries, but they will only interact with Coloma Middle School in their time (see the schedule). They will be able to watch the streaming live, or watch it recorded later. (Windows Media Streaming).

After class discussion about why we develop misconceptions abut other cultures, students will engage in the following activities:

  1. Identify misconceptions other cultures have about citizens of your country
  2. Research the other countries participating using the suggested links, other links, as well as encyclopedias, almanacs. Be sure your sources are credible and relevant. Be aware of potential bias.
  1. Create Jeopardy game questions to be used in the video conference
  2. Create a skit that humorously dispels misconceptions others may have about the your country
  3. Respond (through journal writing) to teacher reading aloud books that introduce cultures of other countries. Suggested books may be found on these websites:

Optional: Create a brochure or poster to depict the country you researched. Be able to locate your country on a map. Topics may include major cities, urban and rural life, vital resources, ethnic foods, arts, cultural creations exported, type of money used, deadly wildlife, and any other important aspects of the country. Pictures will enhance the brochure.

Each participant is asked to prepare questions for discussion with students from other countries. Questions may include any of the following or those you create.

  • What do students your age do for fun or recreation?
  • Describe what you think describes the typical American student.
  • What are your typical schools like? (length, classes)
  • What misconceptions do you think others have of your country?
  • What do you think are the biggest problems in the world today and how can we solve them? What should be your country’s and the USA’s role in solving these world problems? What can I personally do to change things?
  • Should the goal of culture or government be to make people better or make them better off?
  • What is the best thing about living in your country?
  • Explain the various opportunities in education and chosen professions for each gender and economic class.
  • Do couples in your country choose their own marriage partners, or do their parents make that arrangement for them?
  • What values or personality traits are most valued in your country? (What have I learned while growing up?

Learner Outcomes:

  • W.GN.07.03 formulate research questions using multiple resources, perspectives, and arguments/counterarguments to develop a thesis statement that culminates in a final presented project using the writing process
  • W.PR.07.01 set a purpose, consider audience, and replicate authors’ styles and patterns when writing a narrative/informational piece
  • R.IT.07.01 analyze the structure, elements, features, style, and purpose of informational genre, including persuasive essay, research report, brochure, personal correspondence, autobiography, and biography
  • R.CM.07.01 connect personal knowledge, experience, and understanding of the world to themes and perspectives in text through oral and written responses
  • R.CM.07.03 analyze global themes, universal truths, and principles within and across texts to create a deeper understanding by drawing conclusions, making inferences, and synthesizing

Possible GLCEs:

  • W.EN.07.02 write a research report using a wide variety of resources that includes appropriate organizational patterns
  • R.WS.07.07 in context determine the meaning of words and phrases including cross-cultural expressions, …literary terms using strategies and authentic content-related resources
  • R.IT.07.03 explain how authors use writer’s craft and text features including metaphors, similes, captions, diagrams, and appendices to enhance the understanding of central, key, and supporting ideas

Time: This project will require several 45 minute videoconferences with interested schools throughout a 12 hour period. Before the videoconference, students will need approximately three weeks to research and present information to their classmates.

Template to create Jeopardy game
Construction paper for brochures or
Poster board for information display (use large lettering)
Props for play

Post Activities
Discussion of new information learned.

Journal Write reflection about what the student likes best about his/her country and the country studied. What have they learned? Would they visit the country they studied? What’s one thing learned that previously was not known? Which of the other country’s sports, hobbies or food would the students like to try?

Assessment and Evaluation

  • Students will be given a participation grade
  • Their journal writing will be assessed for quality, length, and content
  • Student-created brochures will be assessed using a rubric

Videoconference Agenda Updated!!
Each connection will last 45 minutes

  • 10 minutes – Welcome and Introductions. Each class shares location and brief information about school/area
  • Suggested format for presenting class (open to negotiation) 10 minutes – The presenting class will perform humorous skit depicting and dispelling misconceptions others may have about their country.
  • 15 minutes – The presenting class hosts a game show (Jeopardy or something similar) for the interacting classes to compete. The game show is about the host class’ country/culture. If you want, you can use a PowerPoint template.
  • 10 minutes – Discussion questions round robin. Any school can ask a question of any other interactive school in that session.
    Good-byes and sign off.
    (If extra time allows, students may share brochure projects.)

Coloma Middle School will interact with each class. Each interaction will be recorded and streamed so the participating classes not interactive at that session will be able to watch the sessions they aren’t in.


We partnered with the following schools:

  • Karachi High School, Pakistan
  • Lincoln School, Costa Rica
  • American Nicaraguan School, Nicagarua
  • Instituto Experimental de la Asuncion, Guatemala

Project Authors:

  • Peggy Clore, Coloma Middle School, Coloma, MI
  • Stephanie Pevac, Coloma Middle School, Coloma, MI
  • Videoconference Support: Janine Lim,

Lessons Learned: Reflections from Two Years Later

This project was very interesting for the students and teachers. However, we learned that the skits were very difficult to follow. Students didn’t speak up loudly enough, or the skit came too fast to understand. Each class tried to help the other class to understand the misconceptions about their culture, but it was difficult to understand what was true, what was the misconception, and why it was a misconception through the medium of the skit. We thought skits would be creative, but they actually made it very hard to understand.

A better way to do this might have been to introduce the misconception, explain why it is a misconception and what the truth is, and then do the skit – more slowly & clearly and with visuals to help explain.

Another interesting thing we learned was that, for example, one country might have thought the other country had that misconception, when really they didn’t at all. Or they had no conceptions at all, not even misconceptions.

So…. the next time you want to do an international videoconference, consider what we tried to do and what we learned from it. Our recommendations would be:

  • Make it simple
  • Use visuals to communicate clearly
  • Think about what both sides know about the other students already (if anything) … use that to guide planning

What other tips do you have for international connections?

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